Kik Messenger

 

Learning(i)

Teens using social networking app will need safety guidance.

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Kik works on almost any smartphone, but both sender and recipient must have installed this app and have each other as contacts in their phones to use it. An "S" on a message indicates it's been sent, "D" means delivered, and "R" appears next to a message when it's been opened. There's no limit to the number of characters per message, and photos can be taken directly from within the app. Some capabilities, however, such as the video, sketchpad, and other features that are promoted as regular tools within Kik are actually other apps that can be used via Kik, and they have different rules and fees for premium services.

Violence

No violent content in the app itself, but teens can send and receive unmonitored texts, photos, voice messages, and videos.

Sex

No sexual content in the app itself, but teens can send and receive unmonitored texts, photos, voice messages, and videos.

Language

No iffy language in the app itself, but teens can send and receive unmonitored texts, photos, voice messages, and videos.

Consumerism

Kik Messenger is free, but many of the Kik-enabled apps that are promoted as Kik features -- like the sketch pad, video maker, and a file-sending app -- contain ads or promote a paid premium version. Kik's ability to link these other Kik-enabled apps within itself is a way to drive "app adoption" (purchases) from its users for developers. Upon registering, teens are encouraged to allow messages to be sent to everyone in their phone's address book about signing up for the service, since users can only message those who also have this app.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

No content related to drinking, drugs, or smoking in the app itself, but teens can send and receive unmonitored texts, photos, voice messages, and videos.

Privacy & safety

Some privacy and safety concerns. Teens' usernames identify them on Kik, so full real name should not be used as a username. Up to nine friends at once can be on a group chat. Even though the app's Terms of Use prohibit any information that is false or "harmful to minors in any way," there have been suspicions raised by some observers that predatory behavior is occurring via the networking features. An app named OinkText, linked to Kik, allows communication with strangers who share their Kik usernames to find people to chat with. It's sort of a text version of Chatroulette, but because users also have the option to add photos and videos there is more potential for teens to overshare. Also, teens seem to be posting usernames in the reviews section of the App Store to connect with strangers as well. There's also a Kik community blog where users can submit photos of themselves and screenshots of messages (sometimes displaying full names of users) to contests. There is a feature to block people in settings.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Kik Messenger is an app-based alternative to standard texting as well as a social networking app for smartphones. It has some cool features but also some possible downsides for safety and privacy. Kik users can download other apps with more features, such as video and a sketchpad, to be used on Kik, and users can see if their messages have been read by the recipients, which is a nice touch. That said, Kik should only be used by teens who can discern the difference between texting people individually, with groups, and within a social networking environment. This multi-feature (read: potentially more ways to get into trouble) tool is for older teens and adults who will use it to communicate with family and friends, to make use of the features on some of the other cool Kik-enabled apps (like the video camera, document share, sketchpad, and greeting cards), and who will not give out personal information to Kik users they don't know or indiscriminately pay for premium features on other Kik-enabled apps. Kik definitely adds a kick to "old-fashioned texting," but teens need some guidance on safety and privacy if they're going to use it.

What kids can learn

Skills

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • friendship building
  • multiple forms of expression

Collaboration

  • respecting other viewpoints

Responsibility & Ethics

  • honoring the community
  • making wise decisions
  • respect for others

Tech Skills

  • social media

What Kids Can Learn

Kik Messenger wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

What kids can learn

Skills

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • friendship building
  • multiple forms of expression

Collaboration

  • respecting other viewpoints

Responsibility & Ethics

  • honoring the community
  • making wise decisions
  • respect for others

Tech Skills

  • social media

Kik Messenger wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

This Learning Rating review was written by Dana Villamagna

What's it about?

Register for a Kik Messenger account using your first and last name. Choose a username and upload a profile picture. You'll be prompted to choose whether you want Kik to search through your contacts to find other Kik users, which this app almost necessitates because you can only communicate with other people who have Kik. Then start sending messages or photos (sketches and videos will require another app download) to other Kik-using friends individually or in a group chat.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Kik definitely raises some eyebrows and some smiles, depending on what features you're talking about on this innovative app. In the plus column, the fast message delivery system doesn't have message limits, character limits, or fees if you just use the basic features, and it's decidedly more fun in many ways than SMS texting. On the downside, there's no age verification, seemingly no teen safeguards on the connected app OinkText, and some bad behavior from some Kik users trying to connect with people they don't know via the App Store and Google Play's comment sections.

Will teens leave SMS texting behind and move to more nebulous texting/social networking/multi-app combos like Kik? Time will tell. If they do, we hope the developers, parents, and teens will all keep privacy and safety in mind.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:October 12, 2012
Category:Social Networking
Size:7.70 MB
Version:5.6.0
Minimum software requirements:iOS 4.3 or later; Android 1.5 and up

This review of Kik Messenger was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written byTuxedo2 December 30, 2012
age 18+
 

Don't Kik

Kik and instagram seem to go hand and hand with tweens. On a high percentage of instagram posts you see phrases such as, "Kik me at..." Therefore, if your instagram page is open or you've accepted hundreds of followers, they will now also know your user name on Kik. It is a dangerous way to invite strangers into your life and there is no way for parents to monitor Kik messages or group chats. There are no records to review and chats are easily deleted. Additionally many children have this app and their parents do not know about it. It can be loaded on any android or iphone or ipod touch or iPad.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Parent of a 12 and 14 year old Written byvigilant_dad March 24, 2013
age 18+
 

Dangerous app

Don't be fooled by the innocent sounding name -- this app is a prime vehicle for sexual predators to locate targets. Within hours of installing this app on his phone, my child was receiving random explicit invitations for photo sharing. Predators pose as teens and try to seduce kids into sharing nude "selfies". Volumes of nudes and pornographic screen shots are being shuttled around on this app every minute. There are plenty of other ways for a kid to text another kid -- keep them away from Kik!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent Written byMary Anderson January 25, 2013
age 13+
 

Honest review

look, this really is a good app just over protective parents are too protective! you should trust your kids enough to know that they wont go showing themselves around sending nude and or inappropriate pictures. not all kids are like that just so you know. its just a way to talk to people 10x easier then texting which people need to understand and like its not bad just as long as you don't give away your location of anything like that. that way your not attracting predators of any sort nothing that parents may think will happen. its honestly a good app so don't think its not.
What other families should know
Great messages
Safety and privacy concerns

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass